The 3 Defining Features Of Irish Anti-Semitism
What’s unique about the anti-Jewish agitation emanating from Ireland?
The global discourse on anti-Semitism has shifted into high gear thanks to the recent wave of attacks on Jews the world over by protesters using the mask of anti-Israelism to attack and intimidate Jews.
Ireland, too, has seen its fair share of agitation that — to my mind and those of many others — crosses the line from legitimate opposition to Israeli policies and well into the realm of outright Jew-hatred.
Palestinian supporters rally in Dublin, Ireland; call Israelis “a bunch of rats.”
Newspaper tweets video in which Palestinian supporters describe Israelis as “a bunch of rats”
Please don’t tell me that there’s no anti-Semitism in Ireland. There is.
Or that Ireland “only has a problem with Israel”
For one, there’s Ireland’s obsessional and vitriolic hatred of Israel that appears to emanate out of every pore in society from the political class — who will shortly join only Jordan in formally debating whether or not to expel the resident Israeli embassy — down to the average man and woman fanning the flames of incitement on Twitter and other social networks.
Then there are the specific incidents.
Two days ago, hundreds of “pro-Palestinian” protesters gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin to label Israelis — as a race — “a bunch of rats,” conjuring up the grossest of Medieval anti-Semitism likening Jews to vermin.
The video was shared on social media by a tabloid newspaper although the incendiary chant was conveniently committed from the coverage.
An incendiary priest once routed the tiny Jewish community out of his city. And one doesn’t have to look very far (try: Irish Twitter, TheJournal.ie, Politics.ie) to see that any mention of Israel is greeted by a slew of both normative criticism and explicit anti-Semitism.
Comparing Israel to a German regime that sought the Jew’s destruction appears to be a common past-time for many Irish Twitter users.
The haters even managed to surpass their usual level of creativity by likening Israel’s vaccination pass system — the Green Pass — to the Jude badge (unless I’m mistaken, the Irish can claim credit for this perverse invention). And allegations that Jews control the media are … a cent a dozen.
But beyond those facts, there are some facets of Irish anti-Semitism that make it an interesting case study. I hold these to be:
Many Don’t Actually Believe It Exists
Ask many Irish people whether there is any anti-Semitism in Ireland and they will happily tell you that Ireland is one of the few countries that has never persecuted its Jews.
Those who make this argument will often do so with the same air of smugness as those who affirm that Ireland is merely anti-Israel — and one of the world’s leading voices crusading in favor of the Palestinian cause.
Here’s a choice sample from a few hours ago.
Less than 2 days since those protesters gathered outside the Irish Embassy in Dublin to liken (all) Israelis to vermin:
While it may seem hard for some to believe in light of the hatred emanating from Ireland at the moment, the claim is often precisely this. Not that there “isn’t much” anti-Semitism in Ireland. But rather that there’s virtually none at all. You wouldn’t see it under a microscope.
Sadly many Irish Jews — or at least many among the few that are left — have fallen prey to this strange form of collective denialism.
If you ask them about anti-Semitism in the country in which they live, many will happily affirm to you that their compatriots are “only anti-Israel.” Including those who marched down main streets around the country last weekend calling for the freeing of “Palestine” “from the river to the sea.”
The conversation about anti-Semitism in Ireland it therefore at a reasonably elementary state. In fact the conversation itself is generally silenced. Such that I imagine that if anybody from Ireland reads this post it will be dismissed before the end of the headline.
Whether it stays that way or not, I suggest that it’s probably imprudent to expect anything to change. For those interested in seeing anti-Semitism be called out in the world, low expectations are probably essential. For those Jews still residing in Ireland, I would argue that moving to Israel is the only logical move.
Needless to say: it will also be impossible to ever advance this discussion it if the majority of the country’s citizens remain wed to the delusion that Jew hatred in Ireland doesn’t exist.
While it’s true that many Irish citizens back the Palestinian cause simply because they believe in it, the self-righteous feeling that comes from backing what the Irish believe to be a noble cause creates a sort of enveloping fog that makes it hard to spot those who have hijacked the movement to sow hatred.
Many Irish see an equivalence between their own experience of colonialism and what they perceive Israel to be doing to the Palestinians. They thus see themselves as the heroic underdogs of the world fighting the cause of another downtrodden people. It is this sense of moral superiority, if you ask me, that blinds so many of them to explicit anti-Semitism outside their front door.
(Source: I’m an Irish-born Jew who lived in Ireland until I moved to Israel).
There Are Barely Any Jews
When I attended high school in Cork, Ireland I was — to the best of my knowledge — the only Jewish student in the entire school.
The majority of Irish Jews these days live in Dublin. And according to recent census date, there are less than 3,000 Jews living in Ireland.
There are a couple of significant corollaries to this fact:
Firstly, in a country almost bereft of Jews, organized opposition to Israel is naturally thin on the ground.
While the Irish Israel Alliance does a commendable job at advancing Israel’s case — as does the Israeli Embassy in Dublin — it’s difficult to put up any kind of a fight when confronted with a populace that by and large appears to be vehemently opposed to every policy undertaken by the State of Israel.
This also means that many Irish people — I suspect it may be the majority — have never met a Jew.
Therefore, to the extent that anti-Semitism exists in Ireland it is a racism entirely borne out of ill-will fomented through second-hand sources. This is a factor that distinguishes it from other national anti-Semitisms.
In Ireland, There’s Plenty of Room To Hide Among The Anti-Israel Movement
While estimates vary — after all, it’s unlikely that somebody is going to survey for this data — anecdotal evidence and common sense would suggest that most Irish people seem to be rather staunchly opposed to Israel and in favor of the Palestinian cause.
Against this backdrop of near blank support for the Palestinian cause, it becomes extremely easy for anti-Semites to slip in with the stream unnoticed.
After all, who’s going to call them out on it?
My opinion is and has always been that there is a significant amount of anti-Semitism in Ireland, particularly mixed up among the pro-Palestinian element — and especially among its more virulent fringe.
Ireland provides an interesting case study among global cases of anti-Semitism to the extent that many among its population continue to peddle in a barefaced lie that it doesn’t exist.
My experience, and that of many others, is that such a notion is nothing more than a fairytale delusion.